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Contact us via e-mail (letters@ocweekly.com), regular mail (Letters to the Editor, OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627) or fax (714-708-8410). Letters will be edited for clarity and length. By submission of a letter, you agree that we can publish and/or license the publication of it in print and electronically. All correspondence must include your home city and a daytime phone number.

DANA ROARS BACK

Too bad the Weekly didn't ask for my reactions to the charges being made by my opponent running for Congress, Ms. Gerrie Schipske, or you probably wouldn't have run the article so filled with inaccuracies and loony logic (R. Scott Moxley's "Rogue Statesman," Sept. 6). The focus of your article and my political opponent's attack (mere coincidence, I'm sure) is a short meeting I had with the Taliban Foreign Minister [Wakil Ahmed] Muttawakil in April 2001. Suggesting it was "secret" is so stupid. It was, after all, in all the papers and radio. That's why everybody knows about it.

To repeat again, in the meeting, I aggressively attacked the Taliban for human rights abuses and for the destruction of ancient, giant Buddha statues. I challenged them to have free elections if they really believed they had the support of the Afghan people. I've got no apologies for being in their face; President Bill Clinton, my opponent's hero, never had the same gumption.

Just so you and Ms. Schipske will understand, I am a senior member of the international-relations committee. I regularly meet with high-ranking foreign officials, and there is no requirement that I ask permission of the executive branch before talking to anyone, foreign or domestic. Those of us in the legislative branch, especially those of us who are elected by the people, are not subservient to the executive branch.

As far as my somewhat-hopeful quotes about the Taliban: I had just finished a year of trying to prevent those kooks from getting control of Afghanistan. With the Clinton administration's tacit support, which overwhelmed all this lone congressman could do, the Taliban were then in control of the central government and two-thirds of the country. I was laying down a marker and hoping for the best (even though expecting the worst). After just a couple of months, their tyrannical ways made it clear the Taliban had to go, something President Clinton never concluded. I then did as best I could to mobilize support behind the opposition to the Taliban.

And yes, my efforts centered around bringing back the old exiled King Zahir Shah to serve as a transition leader and to oversee democratic elections. Your article suggested that the Taliban had "good reason" for considering him a U.S. puppet. Where did you get that? From another unnamed veteran foreign-policy expert, or perhaps from a Taliban press release, or maybe even from a press release from my Democrat opponent? Wherever you got it, it was dead wrong, just like the rest of your hit piece.

Zahir Shah is the most beloved and trusted man in Afghanistan. During his long and peaceful reign, he ended the legal obligation for women to wear burkas. He also backed a new constitution setting up a parliament. He was removed by a violent coup, which led to 25 years of chaos and bloodshed.

Yes, I have spent considerable time and efforts trying to help the people of Afghanistan free themselves from their Soviet and the Taliban oppressors, often when no one else cared and the Clinton administration was on the wrong side. Yes, I made a few mistakes over the years, but nothing to justify your distorted and (in your words) "absolutely crazy" attack trying to picture me as cozy with those I fought so long and hard to dislodge from power.

With all that said, I liked the photo.

Dana Rohrabacher
Member of Congress

R. Scott Moxley responds: Thanks to our story, Rohrabacher now admits for the first time that he backed the Taliban. He once again wrongly blames the situation on Clinton when he, Bush 1 and Bush 2 also share responsibility for the foreign-policy disaster. He confirmed my sources' information about the substance of the Qatar meeting, but he doesn't mention why he has never officially acknowledged his Qatar meeting in any post-Sept. 11 speech. And what a comedian: he asks who has characterized King Shah as basically a U.S. puppet. Answer: Congressman Rohrabacher. On the record. More than once. Too bad the story sucked. Maybe you'll like the one this week better.

MORRISSEY, MESSILY

I disagree with Gustavo Arellano's generalizations about the Latino community and Morrissey ("Their Charming Man," Sept. 13). "All Latinos" enjoy Morrissey's music because it reminds them of la ranchera? Did Gustavo research the Latino community in California or Latin America? Not all Latinos like Morrissey for the same reasons. I recently wrote how Morrissey inspired my passion for writing—not that he saved my life, as I was misquoted in the article. The title was "The Songs That Saved Me: An Ode to Morrissey." My inspiration was an old Smiths song. How could Gustavo call Morrissey the U.K. version of Juan Gabriel? Doesn't he know that the Smiths were never played on the radio in the U.K., unlike Juan Gabriel, who is internationally recognized? Also, Jaguares and Morrissey did not "cross over"; Morrissey simply opened for Jaguares. A crossover is Morrissey singing "La Celula Que Explota." And how about that horrible illustration of Morrissey as Jesus on the mount? I was outraged because it contradicts so many of the messages in Morrissey's Smiths songs: "But still, I'd rather be famous than righteous or holy, any day, any day, any day." Do these lyrics really echo something sung by Pedro Infante? I think not.

Patricia Godinez-Benjumea
via e-mail
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